First the good news. I have email from HMRC assuring me that I do not have to register for VAT provided that I sell exclusively through third party sites that collect VAT on my behalf. This means Amazon, Google Play, and probably a few others that I haven’t confirmed that yet.
What that also means is that I can’t sell direct, I can’t sell through non-compliant third party stores (such as Weightless), and I can’t use crowdfunding.
Us book publishers get off lightly. In other business areas the main sales platforms are non-compliant. I’m thinking in particular of Etsy (for crafters) and Bandcamp (for musicians).
And now the bad news. The petition has got past 10,000 signatures, which means that the government has had to make an official response. Sadly whichever policy wonk wrote this for Vince Cable is hopelessly out of the loop.
Essentially what the Cable response is doing is regurgitating the old HMRC line that we were getting a couple of weeks ago. As this blog post explains, that was based on consideration of what the government described as an SME (Small to Medium Enterprise). The official definition of this is, “the category of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is made up of enterprises which employ fewer than 250 persons and which have an annual turnover not exceeding 50 million euro, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding 43 million euro”.
As you can imagine, most of the businesses in trouble over VATMOSS don’t make anywhere near that. Typically they are sole traderships (1 employee) and have turnovers not exceeding 50 thousand euro.
There are apparently 4.6 million such businesses in the UK at the moment, and while not all of them will sell digital products that’s still a huge number of businesses affected. A lot more than the 34,000 that HMRC estimated.
Anyway, I have to go on a business trip shortly, so I am leaving all of this in the capable hands of Juliet, and now also of Talis Kimberley, whom many of you will know from her music (yes, she is affected), but who is also now the Green Party’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for South Swindon. With any luck, by the time I get back they will have knocked a few heads together.